It’s stressful to push the buy button when purchasing an airline ticket with cash or Skymiles. Fees to change or cancel can easily run into the hundreds for most types of tickets, so it’s very important to know the Delta Airlines policies before you buy!
In this Tip we go into detail on the Delta fees and policies related to ticket holds, changes and cancellations.
Let’s start out with four very important Tips:
Hold off as long as you can before cancelling or changing a flight. If Delta changes or delays the schedule or cancels the flight you may be entitled to a refund or change with no fees. This policy is especially helpful if you book far in advance. The exception is when you have achieved an Elite level where fees are waived. And, if possible, consider a same-day flight change, which typically cost $50.
Know the fees before you book two one-way flights instead of a round trip. Delta charges a $200 change or cancel fee for paid domestic flights including flights within the US, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Canada, and charges as high as $500 for international travel. That fee is charged per flight! So if you change or cancel a domestic round-trip flight, you will pay $200. If you change or cancel two one-way domestic flights you will pay $200 for each - or $400!
Call Delta if you have an extraordinary circumstance like illness, a death in your family or a natural disaster. Delta may be willing to waive fees and adjust your itinerary if you do not have trip cancellation or interruption coverage through your credit card or a policy. And if the answer you get is not to your liking, hang up and call again. Sometimes it comes down to who you get on the phone.
Consider trip cancellation or interruption coverage - see our great travel insurance Tip!
In April 2016, Delta waived their phone booking fee and because changes can be expensive and confusing, being able to call Delta to work out the details without paying an extra fee is a welcome change!
Now let’s dig into Delta’s policies and fees.
Holds, Changes and Cancellations for Paid Tickets:
For paid tickets, Delta eliminated the complimentary hold in 2013, but does have a risk-free cancellation policy for eTickets purchased through Delta originating in the US, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Canada, which allows you to cancel with a full refund to your original form of payment before midnight the day after you book the ticket
A change or a cancellation of a paid ticket will incur up to a $500 fee ($200 for Delta marketed flights within the US, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Canada, and up to $500 for international travel with changes usually only permitted to the return portion of an international itinerary); the change and cancel fees are per ticket plus any fare difference
An additional $50 fee is added to the change and cancel fee for adjustments to tickets issued in the US or Canada but not issued by Delta
Change fees on paid tickets are not waived for Elite members
Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for any changes
Bulk fare or tour fare tickets issued through certain third-party websites and travel agents are not eligible for any changes
When non-refundable tickets are changed or cancelled, any excess value is typically issued as a credit to be used within 12 months; a refundable ticket allows a refund to the original form of payment
Holds, Changes and Cancellations for Award Tickets:
Delta has a risk-free cancellation policy for award tickets purchased through Delta originating in the US, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Canada, which allows you to cancel with a redeposit of your miles and refund of fees before midnight the day after you book the ticket
If you need to change (the award will be cancelled and then reissued) or cancel your ticket, the award ticket redeposit fee is $150 if more than 72 hours before your flight
No award flight changes can be made within 72 hours of departure
Any change and reinstatement fees are waived for Diamond and Platinum Medallion members using miles from their own account more than 72 hours prior to departure (loyalty pays!)
Same-Day Changes to Paid and Award Flights:
Same-day changes are available for confirmed or standby travel on flights operated by Delta and Delta Connection for paid and award tickets; standby is only available when seats are not available on the preferred flight and therefore cannot be confirmed
Requests can be made up to 24 hours before the original departure and are limited to the same day as the original flight with the same departure and arrival airports in the US, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Canada (only confirmed changes are allowed for travel to or from Canada – not standby)
The fee is $50 (the fee is waived for Gold, Diamond and Platinum Medallion members
Medallion complimentary upgrades do not transfer to rebooked tickets
Flights with a connection cannot be changed to a non-stop flight
Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for same-day confirmed or standby travel changes
If you have a non-basic economy fare, you must stay in economy but premium cabin fares including Delta One, First and Business Class can be confirmed if a seat is available in a premium cabin
Trip Extras or seats purchased for the original flight do not transfer to your rebooked ticket
A few unique policies exist for standby:
Silver Medallion members, general SkyMiles members and non-members may only fly same-day standby for a flight that is earlier than their original flight
Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members may fly standby for a flight any time on the same day as their original flight
Standby is permitted for multi-segment flights, but customers must stand by for each individual flight segment and standby fees are not refundable once you are assigned a seat on the first standby segment
It’s easier to push the buy button when you are fully informed. The same-day change option for paid and award tickets is a more economical option ($50 for a same-day change versus $150 to $500 to make a change in the days and months leading up to the flight).
And while loyalty pays with some fees waived for Delta’s Medallion Elite flyers, everyone pays dearly for changes to paid tickets, so it makes sense to wait to book your flight until your plans are firm.
Basic Economy tickets are very restrictive with no changes allowed, so always consider this before you buy one. And if you need changes to an award ticket, ALWAYS make them more than 72 hours before your flight or you'll have to take your chances on a same-day flight change.
And feel free to call Delta to make your adjustments if you are uncomfortable processing the change online or have questions. As of April 2016, Delta has waived their phone booking fee, which is a very welcome change!
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